I love that food trucks, who themselves are already on the forefront of one of Edmonton’s most exciting food trends, are also the ones actively pushing another movement – pop-up dinners.
Though I know others have also put together these fleeting events, Big City Sandwich and Nomad have been consistent in their off-seasons to make sure diners don’t forget their names. It’s the perfect fit too, in a winter city like ours, for these entrepreneurs to seek out revenue opportunities (on top of catering) to sustain their businesses year-round. Besides, these pop-up suppers add some welcome spice to a time of year when gathering around a table is a welcome respite from the cold.
Two weeks ago, Filistix joined this list of food-trucks-turned-restaurant captors, taking over the kitchen at The Common for one night only. For a value-laden $30, guests would be treated to a five-course Filipino meal, inspired by dishes chef Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafranca grew up eating (they have both been recently named part of the 2012 class of Western Living’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40 – congrats, guys!).
Mack and I secured tickets to the first seating to the sold-out event (to ensure we’d still be able to make it to Latitude 53’s Parka Patio Party afterwards), and found ourselves nearly the last table to arrive.
The upscale lounge fixtures of The Common translated really well into an elegant dining room. The server explained to us that our entrees would be served family-style, which for parties larger than two would seem to make more sense. Still, I appreciated the sentiment behind inviting diners to interact through sharing with one another.
The appetizer was right up Mack’s alley: Pembina pork spring rolls. They were crisp and light, just how they should have been. On the side was a mango and jicama salad dressed with a mirin vinaigrette, fresh and vibrant. I would have preferred a julienned slaw instead of the cubes, but Mack disagreed with me.
Pembina pork spring rolls
Filistix’s mains really shone. The Kare-Kare, braised Spring Creek Ranch brisket, was served in a lovely peanut sauce (meaning more for me, as Mack is allergic to peanuts), and the most incredible shrimp paste that elevated each bite with deep umami notes.
Pancit Canton, a fried noodle dish with chicken and shrimp, was succulent with the addition of a second ingredient – pork skin, which added texture and a bit of deliciously glorious fat. I would have wanted some more vegetables, but I’m probably just used to my Mum’s version of noodles.
Our hands down favourite was the Adobung Liempo, a Pembina pork belly that had been marinated then slow roasted for four hours. Garnished with calamansi limes and chillies, the pork was sublime, melt-in-your-mouth tender (we were lucky enough to even score a care package of additional pork to take home!).
Dessert was a leche flan, a honey-scented version of crème caramel. It was better than those usually found at restaurants.
Ariel said that The Common (who will be relocating to the former Martini’s space on 109 Street and 99 Avenue in March) has expressed interest in having them return. I definitely think there’s an appetite for these suppers, and based on our experience, I do hope they continue!
Make sure to keep up with the adventures of Filistix on their website.